December 2nd, 2016

The Pause Tool

Creating space to think in the moment

Ever felt that you’ve got so much to do you don’t know which way to turn? Or that your mind is so swamped your thinking feels scattered? Or that your key priorities are so buried beneath the deluge of tasks that you’ve almost forgotten what they are?

This is what overwhelm can feel like. It’s invasive and stressful. When we’re experiencing overwhelm, we can’t think straight, we feel confused, it’s difficult to keep our emotions in check and our relationships suffer. We may often over-react, make poor judgements and antagonise others.

In simple terms, there are two main ways of dealing with this: change the cause and/or change the effect. You can change the cause by reducing or re-prioritising your commitments; you can change the effect by changing the way you think about it.

In my experience, neither is possible without taking a step back.

Introducing the Pause Tool.

These three steps create space to think – right in the moment:

1. Pause: as if pressing an internal pause button.
2. Focus: on something concrete.
3. Breathe: slowly and deeply into your abdomen.

When you’re confronted with a situation that triggers an emotional reaction you may regret, the three steps of the Pause Tool create space to choose how you react. The sequence actually has a calming physiological effect, which helps you think more clearly, be more present and respond mindfully in the moment. This enables you to feel empowered.

The tool reflects a great wisdom summed up by Viktor Frankl , Holocaust survivor and one of the 20th century’s most influential psychotherapists:

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom.”

To get the outcomes we want, we must be able to see what really matters. The Pause Tool is a quick, simple way of helping us to do just that – and it works.

Just because it’s simple though doesn’t mean it’s easy. Mastering the tool takes practice, but you can practise any time, anywhere. And over time you’ll grow the mindful muscle that transforms stress and confusion into calm and clarity.

So next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, why not give it a go?